More Crisis Tips-When Money is Tight, or More than Tight

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So this has really become a ‘thing’ for me.

Even if money is ‘fine’ there’s probably places where you can free up a little more. Or you can think of it as stewardship or going ‘green’. A lot of these are pretty old school, or based off of old thinking with regards to money and item usage. The idea of disposable or quick use items came about for a reason-in a lot of cases it was to free people from this type of necessity.

All things move in a circle I guess.

-Learn to reuse sheets

There’s a lot of fabric in a sheet. Use them to cover furniture, as drop cloths, or as a large amount of kitchen or family cloth. It might not be the ‘nicest’ looking fix in the world, but it keeps cloth out of the landfill and you don’t have to spend quite as much money.

-Pick 3 condiments. Learn how to make them.

Jam, jelly, mustard, flavored butters, nut butters, sauces…you don’t have to flip your entire fridge over to scratch made, just pick a few.

-Prep when you can

Whenever you have a little extra money, stock up towards your stockpile. Just don’t stockpile so much you run the risk of it degrading.

-Buy bulk when you can-

Figure out what you have access to in bulk, and buy it when you can [when it actually costs you less money]. You may not have a lot of space, or it may not be cheaper, but if you can store it and it’s actually cheaper, it’ll save you some money in the long run.

There are some things you can purchase online in bulk, like herbs and spices.

-Drink more water

I actually hate water. I know. But increasing your water intake away from stuff like juice or coffee will cut down on your grocery budget.

-Carry a water bottle

This dovetails into the last tip-if you have a bottle with you, you can find a water fountain and avoid buying something when you’re out.

-Weatherproof your home

Make sure your doors and windows are weatherproofed so your heat and AC isn’t working harder [or in the case of the heating system in my old apartment…basically not working at all when it’s windy]. Even if you just get the shrink wrap for your windows, make sure your home is as efficient as possible.

-Turn up your A/C slightly [or your heat down]

I do mean -slightly-. Just a couple of degrees in either direction will save you some money. You don’t have to freeze all winter, but you don’t need to make it July in January either.

-Shop your pantry

Every few weeks, pick a day [or a week] and eat out of your pantry. Set your ground rules-this week I’ll only purchases dairy and produce, I won’t buy anything, I want to eat as much canned food as possible, etc, and attempt to make as many meals as you can with what you have in the house already.

-Cut your meat

One of Mid’s favorite meals is nachos. But I make my nachos in a completely weird way-I cut the meat with wheatberries. Add grains or beans to your meats, especially ground beef, to make it go that much farther. And the grain makes it feel just as heavy as it would be with nothing but meat.

-Look into other protein sources

Tofu, tempeh, grains, nuts beans…your protein doesn’t have to be meat and it’ll cost you slightly less in the long run.

-Take a few free courses

Craftsy and other sites offer free learning opportunities. And there’s always podcasts. It’ll keep you entertained, and engaged.

-Vinegar, bleach, soap

There are some things that I have to buy name brand. Tide really is the best thing on Mid’s work clothes-and I can’t afford losing an income over off brand laundry soap. But there’s a lot of stuff that can be cleaned by soap, vinegar, and bleach. The best part is that they’re really, really cheap [dollar store bleach is going to get you as far as name brand. Or even just store brand bleach.]

-Wash your clothes less frequently

I feel like this might be the ‘cloth toilet paper’ entry for this list. But we as a culture really do have a habit of washing our clothes much more frequently than we need to-or even should, for the lifespan of our clothes. Jeans especially can handle not being washed every time you wear them. They’ll last longer and you’ll save on water, time, and soap.

If you’re really weirded out by not washing-try layering camis or tanks under your shirts and sweaters at least. You can wash the camis and avoid washing the heavy sweaters for a longer period.

-Learn to cook grains and beans from dry

You’ll save a lot of money over instant and canned.

-Buy a bottle scraper

They make little scrapers for both food and cosmetics. There’s a lot of stuff left in the bottom of jars.

-Flannel sheets

You’ll notice a winter theme going on this list. It’s 90 right now, but we’re only a month off of the unofficial start of snow season. Getting an electric blanket is awesome, but have you ever tried to sleep on flannel in summer? They’re much warmer than people think.

-Scrap crafting

Knitting, sewing, quilting, and even woodcraft I imagine can be done with bits and pieces left over from other projects. I like to make blankets with leftover bits of yarn, and I keep left over handspun to overdye for one of a kind shawls.

-Wear more wool

If you’re politically inclined. Natural fibers are better for temperature regulation than manmade, as a general rule.

-Cut raw sugar with conventional white

I really should be cooking with nothing but raw sugar. But it’s pricey. Cut it with ‘regular’ white sugar, and you’ll be eating a lower processed, lower cost item.

-Learn how to use and care for cast iron

It holds up much, much [we’re talking decades or longer] long’s er than ‘normal’ cookware on the market. Seriously, it’s a chunk of metal.

-Give up on matching everything

What’s your favorite color family? Pastels, jewel tones, black and white? Buy everything in that family, but give up on matching patterns or monochromatic. Your household will still match, but you can buy everything as you find it on sale.

-Give yourself a cool down period

Unless it absolutely does not fit in your budget, give yourself a cool down period before you buy it. A few days, a week, whatever, don’t buy it right then and if you still want it at the end of your cool down go get it. There are a few exceptions. If you think you’re never going to see it again, if the sale is just that good and ends tomorrow, or if you’re looking at a one of a kind item while at a place like a thrift store, then get it.

-Ask your bank if they’ll work with you

This works best if you’re a long term, loyal customer in good standing. When you’re looking for a loan, or want to refinance, or just want to try to work on your credit, point out that you’ve been with the company for x number of years and if they’ll work with you as a loyalty bonus.

-Learn mark down cycles and schedules

I rarely buy meat at full price anymore. I’ve figured out when Target marks down their meat and check those mornings. I also know when they clearance their cosmetics. As I said last entry, RVs go on sale after the shows at the end of the year. If you know when things are supposed to go on sale, you’ll have a better feel of how to work out a shopping schedule.

-Don’t buy just because it’s on sale

Here’s the thing though. You aren’t saving money if you’re buying something just because it’s there and it’s on sale. Don’t drag stuff home just because you can and you might use it some day. You’re better off paying slightly more if you need something in the future than constantly making a stream of ‘sale and clearance’ purchases just because they’re cheap.

-Buy bone in meat

Use the bones to make broth and stock. It’s generally cheaper per pound as well.

-Ask for necessities as gifts

It’s not cuddly, and I feel like this is my ‘last true test before adulthood’. I ask for groceries and gift cards for holidays and my birthday now. I’m asking for a coffee maker for Christmas. It helps with budgeting.

-Set a price limit on what you buy. Hold to it.

I do this with clothes and groceries. I won’t pay above a certain limit for produce per pound, and I rarely pay more than $20 a piece for clothing if I can avoid it.

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